Even though it’s only January, it’s time to start thinking about school for next fall. I wish we had started this early last year—I had no idea the school district personnel were off all summer along with the teachers, so I didn’t realize that having my first contact in late April was way, way too late. But this year, we’re in the system, and today I met with Gracie’s preschool teacher to discuss what services she will need at school next year.

What a difference it makes to have her already getting services through the schools! These past few months at the public school have been more than enough time for the teachers to get to know her and look past her very scary diagnoses. The meeting today went great. Her teacher and I are on the same page. In fact, her teacher is recommending that Grace get exactly the services I was trying to get her at the beginning of this year. But I didn’t know the buzzwords—didn’t know what to ask for—and it turned out to be a mess. Next year will be different.

Grace’s teacher is going to recommend that she get “intensive paraprofessional support” in the classroom as well as vision services, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Her teacher very candidly said that Grace doesn’t need a special education teacher—she belongs in a regular classroom with regular kids. But, because of not feeling pain and the blindness, Grace will need someone with her in the classroom to help her get around. As her teacher mentioned, she also may need a scribe—there is no doubt that she will be able to complete the assignments, but she probably won’t write with a pencil on paper, so hopefully the para will be able to help with this also. Her teacher is also going to start the process of getting Grace keyboard training, which apparently takes a long time.

Grace’s teacher also told me that she is sitting on the IEP right now in order to protect Grace. She said there hasn’t been a day that Grace has been in the classroom that she hasn’t met all of the IEP goals. She explained that she knows Grace needs vision services and OT/PT, but they have never seen any behavioral issues in class, and if they complete the goals in the IEP without coming up with new goals that aren’t fake, Grace will have to leave the school. She said the closest thing to a behavioral issue they have experienced is that Grace tends to try to change the subject when she doesn’t know the answer. It’s so true! She does this at home, too, but we never connected it.

It’s such a relief. They really know her. They have seen everything I was trying to show them at the beginning of this year—that Gracie is a typical kid, very sweet and VERY smart, but she has these medical needs that are really unique and scary and they prevent her from learning like a typical kid. Even better than knowing her, though, is that they are going to give her everything I wanted for her at the beginning of this year. They understand that she’ll need that one-on-one support to get through the day, but also that she doesn’t need special ed. It is amazing and I’m so relieved.

I probably shouldn’t hatchet my counts before they chicken—after all, we don’t even know what school she’ll be placed at for next year—but the first step is done and it’s such a relief. Thank the good lord.

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